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Surf Ski Characteristics

Surf Skis are long, sleek paddle sport craft with an open (sit-on-top) cockpit, usually with a foot pedal controlled rudder under the surf ski hull.

A surf ski-single is typically between 5-6.5m in length much longer than a racing kayak at 5.2m. The long waterline makes surf skis fast on flat water (Olympic K1 kayaks are faster) and unmatched when paddled on long distance ocean swells. Surf Skis track well but are less maneuverable or stable than the shorter, wider wave skis.

The surf skis sit on top cockpit makes self rescue after a capsizing easier than the sit-in design of a Kayak. Paddling a sit on top surf ski inevitably involves contact with water, so surf skis have become very popular in warmer coastal regions such as Australia, California, Hawaii and South Africa.

Surf Ski - Racing

Surf skis are raced worldwide in Surf Lifesaving competitions where the surf ski design is strictly govern by SLSA. The surf ski length is restricted to 5.79m and the minimum surf ski weight is 18kg.

Long distance surf Skis or ocean racing surf skis do not have these limitation, with surf skis becoming lighter and longer to maximise the surf ski speed. Paddlers use surf skis between 6-6.5m long with the surf ski weight between 8-9 Kg. The Surf Ski World Cup visits Perth for the Doctor – a downwind surf ski race between Rottnest and Scarborough, attracting the best surf ski paddlers in the world. 

Plastic surf skis have proved very popular on river kayak races such as the Avon Descent.

  Surf Ski Single   Surf Ski Double   life Saving Surf Ski   Plastic Surf Ski

Surf Ski - Construction

As with kayaks, surf skis are made from a range of materials. Plastic Surf Skis made by Spirit Paddle Sports and Finn Kayaks are fast and durable providing paddlers a cheaper alternative to the composite surf ski option.

Light weight surf skis are made of composite layers of epoxy or polyester resin-bonded fibreglass, kevlar and carbon fibre. Like river kayaks, surf skis made of fibreglass are good value for money. Elite surf skis are made of a kevlar carbon fibre mix producing a light fast racing surf ski. A rule of thumb when buying a surf ski as the surf ski weight falls – the surf ski price rises.

Surf Ski Rating

Surf skis have been rated on a 5 point scale on three characteristics skill, ability and speed. A novice paddler should consider a surf ski rated 4 or 5. An elite paddler should consider a Surf Ski rated 1 or 2.

For advice or information on choosing a Surf Ski contact Kevin White – paddling at an elite level for over 25 years during which time he has been involved in racing kayak design, supply and manufacture of kayaks and surf skis.

Surf Ski Range

Surf Ski Single
Surf Ski Double
Life Saving Surf SKi Plastic Surf Ski
  Horizon   Apex   Trident   PRS
  Dorado   Dorado       Molakai
  Trident   Vision       Endorfinn
  Atom           Racing Ski
  Synergy           Afinnity
  Flipper - Junior Ski           CTR
              CTR - Double